When he was a boy, if he was polite? Quiet? Or he has been everywhere? What did he like, what was he playing with, and with whom? What did he want to hear about? What to learn? And what from that has he remembered for a lifetime?
It’s mine and not mine. Mine, because I have it inside. Not mine, because Ryszard Kapuściński reminded me of this while I was reading his book “Travels with Herodotus”. He asked, “And what has he remembered for all his life?”
It immediately brought a thought of my little students, whom I did not ask anyone for and which I received. From the Lord, like everything in my life.
Children’s faces, their small hands, their sweet eyes I began to see when I was still living in Łódź. It was in 2016 and 2017. Several people, when they prayed for me, saw me with children. Many black ones that surrounded me. I did not take it seriously. I thought, “They know that God calls me to Africa, what can be done in Africa? What pictures show the missionaries from there? Always with children.” And then it began. During ordinary activities, washing the dishes, reading, talking to someone, a picture appeared in one blink of an eyelid. Once, great child eyes looked at me. The second time, a small hand embraced the tree trunk. Third, the child again looked at me, this time from a distance. I saw children, no announcements, suddenly. And so my heart gradually softened on what the Lord was preparing for me.
Because I did not have (I still almost do not have) any experience with children. For a dozen years of my walk with God, I have not had any biblical lesson for children in the Polish church. I have never even been to such a lesson. My education also has nothing to do with children. When I studied applied mathematics (which does not entitle me to teach mathematics in schools), it was possible to do an additional course that would enable it. I was saying when someone asked if I was going to this course, that I was not doing it just in case I had the opportunity to teach. I hoped it will close every door.
Why so? Did not I like children? No. But I was afraid of them. As those with whom you can not talk about everything. And which you need somehow to conduct in a conversation. Enter into their world, feel them and move within their reality. Nobody ever told me about it. But I knew, and this knowledge terrified me. I did not suppose, because I never tried, how exciting entering their world can be. Still without filters of adulthood and knowledge.
God uses things He gave you when he was still thinking about how beautiful you will be. God uses your predispositions, talents and temperament. But God also calls you beyond your comfort zone. This is the only place that lets you discover how much you can. And the only place where only He remains.
At the end of last year it came to me. It was closed in the mail like in a box. The leader of the missionaries in Pemba wrote to me if I would not like to help in a small church that runs kindergartens in four different villages. Or, what’s closer to the truth, they deal with children during the day when parents are going to work. It was about visiting the local community and conducting classes for children. I had a ready answer, because a few days earlier the Lord gave me a dream, in which I was put in a situation that violated my comfort, I knew that, despite everything, it was good to choose the uncomfortable. I chose the same in reality.
There are about seventy children in each group of children. I do not have a plan. Neither methods. Before each class I pray for both. I would like to remember their names. Impossible. I would like to look into everyone’s eyes. Impossible. And yet I go back there. Because I know Someone who turns impossible into possible. Because I know Him who sends me there.
The children are so clean and ready to listen to everything. They just want to know. I was pleased to see them sitting open-mouthed during the story of how God created the world. When they covered and uncovered their eyes, nothing would turn into light. When they raised their hands high, pointing to the sky. And when they lay on the ground, resting, like God, on the seventh day. And I was so moved, when they could say after the lesson what He has created.
And what has he remembered for all his life? What has she remembered? This question does not give me peace. At the same time, it is too much to think that I could give them such a thing during these short classes, to remember forever. At the same time it is quite possible with Him who made me and these children. And who lives.
I think what I remembered from pre-school times. Long, boring aging, during which I could never fall asleep. One kindergarten teacher, about which I was sure she was a witch. Having fun in the hair salon, after which I had lice and had to stay at home for a few days. Dried crayfish, which someone brought to kindergarten from some trip. Watching fairy tales together. As I said a poem about Santa Claus and vodka, which my father taught me for fun, without assuming that I will repeat it in kindergarten. (But I got the gift.) And how I liked to draw the lines.
These are colorful things. It’s nice to think about them, even now, when I search through memory. But are they talking about something? Yes. Did they leave anything more than a color? I do not think so.
I have a prayer that I pray before preparing for classes. “Put in me a picture of what you want to give them, and in my mouth words, in my body movements so that they remember what you want them to remember for whole theirs lives.”
And what has he remembered from this for a lifetime? I believe he will come one day and tell me about it.